Questions for Creatures with Forward-Seeing Imaginations
For Thomas Berry
Friday, December 1, 2023
For billions of years, billions of creatures
have made a home on this jeweled planet
of water and stone. Wild love affairs
— Sun and Earth; fungi and algae; bacteria
and mitochondria — preceded and spawned us,
our ancestral lineage recorded in the original eyes
of trilobites, in undulating muscle of jellyfish,
in ancient skeletal minerals sketched first
in the dark heart of stars.
Peering billions of years backwards in time,
we probe deep space and cosmogenesis,
decipher the unfurling story of life,
yet barely perceive the future hurtling
toward us, even as it’s shaped
by our ambitious grasping hands, and filled
with the stuff of human imagination —
however impoverished or vast.
Billions of creatures already know
their perfect place in the cosmic dance —
their specific genius expressed in relation
to nectar or coral reef, sequoia or hawk.
Millions of unlettered species already answer
questions we have barely begun to ask —
the oldest mystery school alive in the ones
who commune without cults, communicate
without abstraction, migrate without combustion,
or – without brains or hands — couple with the Sun,
birthing energy from endlessly streaming photons.
What must they think of us — hungry ghosts,
hooked up to plasma TV, gathering faraway food
in packages, drinking from bottles of plastic,
razing forests for scented tissue and catalogues,
slicing our own flesh for pleasure or perfection,
pouring poison into the faultless bodies of children,
loading the tender arms of young men and women
with bombs and guns, exploding their minds
with the dismembered bodies of their own kind
before they know how to wallow with a lover
in wildflowers, beneath the holy Moon
and burning eyes of the gods, before they know
what genius smolders in them, awaiting fire,
before they know how to pluck a columbine
and offer cool nectar to the lover’s tongue?
This is the way it’s always been:
Billions of creatures co-arising, fading in and out
of the irreversible cosmic symphony. Do they regret
living as they must, cued to primal harmonics
of tide and storm, phytoplankton
and oak, lion and vole?
And what of us?
In the last green flash of consciousness,
before we are swallowed by the great night sea,
will we wonder if we have left a wake of ruin
or of celebration — an offering
of reciprocal magnitude
to the billowing imagination
and wild cosmic womb
from which we first emerged
as spark, as seed,
as a fragile embryo
— Geneen Marie Haugen
To read previous musings click here.